CONCACAF Cup Diary: Mexico

All three of Mexico's scorers in the CONCACAF Cup -- Oribe Peralta (#19), Javier Hernandez (14) and Paul Aguilar (#22) -- celebrate after a goal against the USA on October 10, 2015, in Pasadena, California. (Photo: Mexsport)

PASADENA, California – Mexico made history once again Saturday night, defeating the United States, 3-2 after extra time, in the first-ever CONCACAF Cup. 

In a thrilling encounter punctuated by the excellence of Paul Aguilar’s goal in the 118th minute, the victory earned the seven-time Gold Cup champion a berth in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup. 

CONCACAF.com offers some observations of Mexico’s memorable performance from one of the greatest nights in the confederation’s history:  

EXHILARATION

If there is anything more stirring in football than watching Javier Hernandez celebrate after he scores a goal, such an occurrence would be tremendously difficult to pinpoint. 

Despite all of his global success, the 27-year-old had never scored in four previous games against the Americans. When his opportunity came in the 10th minute– thanks to a brilliantly crafted sequence of passing and off-the-ball movement -- Hernandez eagerly slotted a right-footed shot into the back of the net off a pass from Oribe Peralta. 

The moment’s pure joy was carved on his face and was left imprinted in our memories.  

PERALTA & GOALS

If you’re of the notion that every time Oribe Peralta competes in an international competition, he somehow crafts a way to score at least once by the end of it all, you’d be largely correct. 

With his goal against the U.S. – Mexico’s second of the match -- the Club America star has now scored in two CONCACAF national-team competitions: CONCACAF Cup (1 games, 1 goal) and the CONCACAF Gold Cup (6 games, 4 goals). 

Peralta has also netted in each FIFA-related tournament in which he has played: World Cup (4 games, 1 goal), World Cup Qualifying (11 games. 5 goals) and the Olympic Football Tournament (6 games, 4 goals). 

At the club level, the 2013 CONCACAF Player of the Year has struck for 20 career goals in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League (12 goals with Santos; 8 goals with Club America) equaling him with teammate Carlos Darwin Quintero for second on the tournament’s all-time scoring list. Both trail leader Javier Orozco by five goals. 

Peralta’s scoring ability and ruthlessness on the biggest stages elevates him as one of Mexico and CONCACAF’s most notable figures of this decade.  

HOW DID HE DO THAT?

While Paul Aguilar’s game-winner will go down as one of the greatest and most important goals in CONCACAF history, a question needs to be asked with all deserved admiration: how did he do that? 

We’re not referring to the flawless technique and astonishing concentration. Aguilar is obviously a technician of the highest order. His ability to execute on such a play is not in doubt. 

The greatest level of respect, however, must be paid to the 29-year-old defender for being able to pull off such a shot after running relentlessly for 118 minutes up and down the right side of the pitch. His talent and desire defeated fatigue. Lesser players would have wilted earlier, never being able to put themselves into a position at that point in the match to make an impact. 

Bravo to Aguilar!  

GOLD CUP SUCCESS AGAINST U.S. CARRIES OVER INTO CONCACAF CUP

Mexico’s advantage over the U.S. in championship matches of CONCACAF-related, senior national team competitions was fortified by the win on Saturday. In five all-time meetings between the North American rivals in Gold Cup finals, the Mexicans lifted the trophy on four occasions. Their last clash in a decider was in 2011, when the Tricolor stormed back from a 2-0 deficit to post a 4-2 win at – ironically enough – the Rose Bowl. The combined score of Mexico’s four Gold Cup final wins is 14-2.  

RANDOM ITEMS

  • The CONCACAF Cup pitted the winners of the 2013 (USA) and 2015 (Mexico) Gold Cups against each other. Interestingly, only 13 players appeared on Mexico’s rosters in both the Gold Cup and the CONCACAF Cup.23-man CONCACAF Cup. For reasons varying from injuries to coach’s decision, some not making the trip to Pasadena -- who were at the Gold Cup -- included GK Guillermo Ochoa, DF Francisco Javier Rodriguez and FW Giovani dos Santos.

 

  • While in Pasadena, Mexico interim head coach Ricardo Ferretti expressed his delight in regard to working with the national team’s players. Though expected to step away after Tuesday’s friendly against Panama, the 61-year-old will have another chance to win a CONCACAF trophy. He is also the head coach of Tigres, which currently tops Group B in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League and needs only a draw against visiting Herediano on October 21 to seal a quarterfinal place.

 

  • Moises Muñoz may not be a fixture in Mexico’s starting line-up, but he has now played a major role in helping the Tricolor reach two FIFA competitions. He was in the nets for Saturday’s CONCACAF Cup, but, in 2013, he was the starter in both matches of the CONCACAF/Oceania Intercontinental Playoff against New Zealand. Mexico won the series 9-3 on aggregate and qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup after finishing fourth in the CONCACAF Hexagonal. The 35-year-old was also Club America’s custodian as it topped the Impact de Montreal to capture the 2014/15 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League.